What is vegan leather?
Vegan leather is an ethical, cruelty-free and sustainable material made using polyurethane or other non-animal materials.
There are 2 main types of vegan leather; synthetic and natural. Synthetic is basically plastic and is not a good option if you are worried about environmental impact and natural vegan leather is made from organic matter such as pineapple leaves or mushrooms which is a much more environmentally-friendly option.
Thanks to amazing innovation, there is now vegan leather available that is made from cork, mushroom, apple peel and even pineapple leaves.
Vegan leather is versatile, durable and looks great. It is cruelty free and gives you a leather style and feel without the involvement of animals.
Synthetic Vegan Leather
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is not often used as “vegan leather” but it is usually found in cheap leather products. This is because it is very affordable and can be sold cheaply.
An item labelled as vegan leather is usually PU (polyurethane), PU leather is more expensive than PVC but is made in a more sustainable way and remains cheaper than leather.
Is faux leather, alternative leather and synthetic leather the same as vegan leather? Yes. These are all names for the same product, leather made from non-animal materials.
Natural Vegan Leather
Vegan Leather Made From Pineapple
Pinatex is a leather that is made using pineapple leaves. The pineapple leaves are a by-product of pineapple farming and instead of being burned or left to rot, the leaves are taken and go through a decortication process before the fibres are converted into a mesh-like material. Pineapple leaves are biodegradable but the resins that are used in the Pinatex coating are not meaning it is not 100% biodegradable.
Vegan Leather Made From Cork
Cork leather is a great material for wallets, bags, shoes, luggage and more. It is made using bark from Cork Oak Trees and is durable, lightweight and fire resistant (to an extent). Cork leather is able to last around 20 years without experiencing wear and tear.
Vegan Leather Made From Mushroom
Mushroom leather is made from the roots of the mushroom plant. It is incredibly durable, waterproof and is relatively quick and easy to produce. It is also 100% biodegradable
These are just a few of the many vegan leather products that are being innovated around the world… Apple peels, orange peels, algae, cactus, barkcloth and even paper are being used to make natural, sustainable vegan leather too.
Pros and Cons Of Different Vegan Leather Types
|Type Of Vegan Leather||Pros||Cons|
|PVC||Animal-friendly||Harmful to the environment due to toxic compounds and pollutants |
More eco-friendly than PVC leather
Looks similar to traditional leather
|Made from non-renewable resources|
|Pinatex||Using an agricultural bi-product|
Doesn’t require additional raw environmental resources to produce
Feels like traditional leather
|Not 100% biodegradable due to coating|
|Cork Leather||Sustainable |
|Long production process|
Limited design capabilities (you can’t alter what cork leather looks like as much as other types)
|Mushroom Leather||Environmentally sustainable |
Similar feeling to leather suede
|Best suited to darker-coloured leather products (although this comes down to personal preference)|
Vegan Leather FAQs
Is vegan leather good for the environment? Yes, if you choose natural vegan leather (made from organic matter) it is good for the environment. Natural vegan leather is sustainable, cruelty-free and biodegradable. Synthetic vegan leather (PVC & PU) are not good for the environment.
Is vegan leather worth it? Yes, natural vegan leather looks and feels great, is highly durable and eco-friendly. It is easy to maintain and there are loads of material options and styles to choose from. Vegan leather lasts a long time and involves no harm to people or animals.
Is vegan leather durable? Yes vegan leather is durable. How durable it is and how long it will last depends on the materials used. Synthetic leather is not as durable as other options so, if possible, go for natural vegan leather. Natural vegan leather offers similar durability to traditional leather.
Are vegan leather shoes durable? Yes, as long as you choose ones that are high quality and well made, they are just as durable as non-vegan leather.
Does vegan leather last? Natural vegan leather lasts incredibly well. It can last longer than traditional leather and it does not crack or scratch easily.